THE NEW TODAY is inviting Grenadians to read two articles in this week’s online paper by two local professionals that focus on the manner in which the public finances of the country are being manhandled by the current ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
One of the two articles is written by retired Grenadian-born economist with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Laurel Bain and the other is penned by attorney-at-law, Cajeton Hood who served as the Attorney-General of the country under the 2013-18 government of Prime Minister Mitchell.
The article from Ms. Bain appears on Page 16 and that of Mr. Hood is on Page 18 and persons are being asked to forget the messengers but read the messages as they touch on issues of serious national discourse.
Mr. Hood has re-opened the Julia Lawrence issue in which the former Director of Audit was forced out of the post following a complaint against her by Prime Minister Mitchell which triggered the then Governor General Sir Daniel Williams to set up a Commission of Inquiry into allegations she made against him.
It should be recalled that the Director of Audit had accused the Prime Minister of marking up her Audited report to be submitted to Parliament on the Accounts of the State in such a manner as to alter it.
Dr. Mitchell denied any knowledge of this and was offended by the allegation and decided that he had to remove the Director of Audit from the post.
Some 23 years later, Mr. Hood who was then serving as Permanent Secretary has now come forward and admitted publicly that Ms. Lawrence did not tell a lie on the conduct of the Prime Minister.
The former AG wrote: “….the duly qualified and duly appointed Director of Audit submitted her report and Keith Mitchell, the Minister marked it up with some very nasty comments. I want him to now sue me for saying that it was certainly he who marked up the report submitted by Julia! I was Keith’s Permanent Secretary over the relevant period”.
This is a bold statement by Mr. Hood which if left unanswered would leave any reasonable person to conclude that the island’s Prime Minister is a wicked and vindictive person who is unfit for holding such high office.
Did the Prime Minister commit perjury by misleading a law court? Is there anything in the statute that can prevent criminal action being taken against Dr. Mitchell if a case can be made out that he told a lie on oath against the then Director of Audit?
THE NEW TODAY is very concerned about this matter since it can also be argued with merit that the Prime Minister used Sir Daniel and also former high court judge, Justice Monica Joseph as part of his game plan to remove an independent person from the post of Director of Audit.
And the other major point that Mr. Hood is making in the article is very valid because some 23 years later the Prime Minister has never appointed any person to fill the post of Director of Audit on a permanent basis but has again used the Public Service Commission (PSC) as a rubber stamp to ensure persons serve only in an acting capacity.
It is our view that any time Dr. Mitchell and his NNP regime are removed from office that an independent body be set up to investigate the Julia Lawrence matter with a view to correct a historical wrong against a public officer.
The then Director of Audit was forced to find over $EC100, 000.00 in legal fees to fight the case brought against her by the Prime Minister up to the level of the Privy Council in London in order to protect her integrity.
It should be noted that Dr. Mitchell did not have to use funds from his own pocket to bulldoze the Director of Audit from her post but the public purse.
It was again the public purse that the current Prime Minister allegedly turned to in order to seek immunity from prosecution after a U.S citizen filed a lawsuit against him that was linked to the Eric Resteiner Briefcase issue.
The truth of the matter is that the information provided to Ms. Lawrence about the alleged markings on her Audit report by the Prime Minister came from a senior civil servant in Parliament who then turned around and denied it out of fear of the power of the Office of the Prime Minister and possible repercussions.
There is at least one other civil servant who is no longer in the service who knew the truth about the allegation made by Ms. Lawrence against the Prime Minister but did not come out in her defense.
THE NEW TODAY is cognizant of the reality that many civil servants will sell-out their colleagues in their own personal interest where political expediency is the order of the day.
Will Mr. Hood as an officer of the court speak nothing but the truth on a witness stand against Prime Minister Mitchell in the unjust treatment suffered by this most senior civil servant by an individual who many have concluded is power hungry and will trample upon anyone standing in his way?
Will the former AG be prepared to tell all on what he referred to as “very nasty comments” against Ms. Lawrence? Did these comments include the use of language that should attract the ears and attention of a police officer to bring charges against the individual?
It is one thing to use certain language within the domain of a private home but it is vastly different to use the same words in public office especially the Office of the Prime Minister.
THE NEW TODAY is aware that some members of the current government will tell their colleagues in private that they have been at the end of what Mr. Hood called “very nasty” language coming out of the mouth of the one occupying the most important chair in the Botanical Gardens.
The question which should be on the minds of many Grenadians in 2021 and beyond is: How much lower can this country go before change can take place?
Despite the odds especially with Covid-19, THE NEW TODAY wish all a Happy 47th Independence.